Three-time Grand Slam finalist Casper Ruud took a different approach to Wimbledon, widely considered the most prestigious event in tennis.
That included attending more concerts featuring his favorite singer, The Weeknd, than actually playing tennis on the lawn.
Unsurprisingly, 29-year-old British journeyman Liam Brody, ranked 142nd in the world, knocked out Ruud in the second round on Thursday. Rude, ranked 4th in the world, was OK with that. “He’s a much better grass-court player than I am,” Ruud said of Broady.
Once upon a time, many of the greatest tennis players made success at Wimbledon the focus of their season, and some thought their careers were incomplete without winning in the sport’s birthplace. Everyone from Rod Laver to Martina Navratilova says they came to Wimbledon to connect with their sporting roots.
Now, with the high profile of the other three Grand Slam tournaments, and the odd grass-court season taking about a month away from the rest of the tennis calendar, many top players just can’t find the time or leeway. . This is to prioritize getting better on the grass. Even if it costs them the immortality of tennis, so be it.
As blasphemous as it sounds, for many players, even the great ones, Wimbledon has become just another Grand Slam tournament.
Former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka said: “In my opinion, I don’t know if winning Wimbledon is bigger than winning the US Open or the Australian Open. They are all very important tournaments. It is,” he said.
Wimbledon itself is partially to blame. In the early 2000s, as racquet and string technology continually improved, allowing players to hit the ball with new powers, Wimbledon replaced the mixture of ryegrass and red fescue they had been using until then with Perennial. – Started laying ryegrass all over the court. This switch made the court more durable, resulting in a cleaner, higher bounce and a surface more like a hard court than a reddish ice rink.
Around the same time, the French Open made the court harder and faster, which basically caused the disappearance of the clay-court specialist who had won only in Paris. Within a few years, play at the four majors had become more similar than different. The same players start winning at nearly every competition, and racking up Grand Slam tournament titles throughout a career is more about tennis’ dominance than who can win that August title in front of the British royal family courtside. A box that became a story.
Still, it’s true that grass court tennis is different from all other tennis, and the All England Club continues to have many fans.
Among them are nearly all British players, many of whom grew up chasing tennis balls on the grass at their local clubs, and now the open age that began in 1968. That includes Novak Djokovic, who is considered to be the best player in the NBA. He started his tennis. Ever since I was little, I’ve been watching Wimbledon on TV. Top American players Francis Tiafoe and Sebastian Korda said they wished the grass-court season was longer. Because grass courts fit our style better and have more purity.
Bob Bryan, America’s Davis Cup captain and four-time Wimbledon doubles champion, said nothing gave him goosebumps like walking through the wrought-iron gates of the All England Club.
“It’s the holy grail of this sport,” Bryan said. “There is no such thing.”
Yes, but that awful turf, that classic turf on which three of the four Grand Slam tournaments were once contested, has virtually disappeared from the sport.
Russia’s Daniil Medvedev said he was always very grateful for Wimbledon. The flowers were all perfect colors and in the right places. food. Luxurious locker room. But then you have to play on the grass, which can make even the best players feel like they’re bad at tennis.
“Losing drives me crazy,” Medvedev said. “It’s like, ‘No, I played really bad.'”
Stefanos Tsitsipas spent most of the break between the French Open and Wimbledon in a lavish lap with his new “soulmate”, Women’s Tour star Paula Vadosa, rather than practicing on the grass. Posted on social media from location.
He said that winning on clay, especially at the French Open, felt gritty and dirty and felt great. On the grass it can feel pretty and a little empty, but he looked a far cry from what he looked like after beating one of the grass’s greats, Andy Murray, on Center Court that Friday. He said it was on grass.
For men there is another problem. Djokovic has been in form here for a long time, with four Wimbledon men’s singles titles, seven overall titles and a 31-match winning streak — something that other players on the field occasionally take note of, but what the heck. does it make sense?
“He seems to be getting better,” said up-and-coming Italian Lorenzo Musetti, who recently started winning on turf, with some surprise. He said he struggled there because he could have gotten up and stolen the ball anywhere else. At Wimbledon, even on new turf, the ball sits low enough that the player essentially has to stay in his three-hour squat, using his legs, calves and thigh muscles to propel the movement. Yes, like a ski racer coming down the slope. That may be one of the reasons Djokovic excels — he was an outstanding skier before he got serious about tennis — and many taller players just can’t handle the demands of the grass.
Women also struggle. World number one Iga Siwiatek has never made it past the fourth round at Wimbledon, but a deep run at the French Open, which she has won the past two years, has meant she’s been resting and playing well. She said she didn’t have time to do it. A game to get used to the unpredictable bouncing on the grass. She considered training on grass during the off-season in November and December, but she said she decided that wouldn’t prepare her for the Australian Open in January.
“Throughout the year, I don’t think about it much,” she said of lawn prep.
A promising but dangerous Spaniard on clay and hard courts, Alexander Davidovich Fokina said he almost lost confidence as soon as he stepped onto the grass.
“It’s just very, very hard,” he said.
Another Russian, Andrei Rublev, described the grass as insane and anxiety-inducing tennis, with short rallies and results that might seem illogical.
“Going out on the court feeling so confident, he served four aces, two returns, it’s unbelievable. He broke out of nowhere and the set was over,” Rublev said. . “And sometimes you can feel very cramped, like you can’t move, you can’t get a single ball into the court, and the player double faults twice and the ball hits your racket frame. , go in, you break him, and you win the set.”
Medvedev doesn’t think attending a preparatory grass tournament will make much of a difference, as turf is different in different parts of Germany, Holland and England. He said the All England Club’s field courts played very fast, while the stadium courts were slow.
Will he be able to relax on the lawn? He may be close after Friday’s second-round victory, he said.
“Perhaps at the porch,” he said. “Not in the room, but at the door.”
As for Ruud, he said he will keep trying after the loss, but that winning Wimbledon may not be possible. Every time I loosen that deadly forehand, I feel like I’m about to fall and hurt myself because of the landing, and I have to step forward to chase the next shot.
He played in the men’s doubles tournament so he can stay here for a bit before returning to clay court tennis in Europe later this month.
He may have other motivations besides tennis. The Weeknd were due to play in London this weekend.